How to Deal with Difficult Customers: 5 Tips

5 min readOct 21, 2020


Good customer service is what differentiates a company from its rivals.

Anyone working in customer service would understand that no matter how much time you spend in delivering good customer service, you can’t please everyone every time. Sooner or later, support agents will have to deal with difficult customers. Whether it’s a customer with some outlandish demand or an otherwise rational customer who happens to be having a bad day, your skills are put to test. And it’s time to pass the test with flying colors.

We suggest powerful yet simple tips for dealing with difficult customers and effectively helping them solve their issues. Before we get started, here’s the thumb rule: learn to make the best of troublesome customer interaction and tackle the situation in a manner that satisfies everyone. It’s important to realize that your difficult customers represent a source of learning and an opportunity to make things right.

Statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Inside the Mind of a Difficult Customer

Understanding is the first step in dealing with any problem. So let’s take a closer look inside the mind of a difficult customer, psychologically. Why do they get angry at all?

There may be multiple reasons for a customer’s anger; however, most often, it’s just a few factors. Understanding these factors will help you gain a keener insight into what could have gone wrong. You get an opportunity to transform the customer’s mindset about your brand from negative to positive through your way of handling their concerns. Ideally, customers are frantic when they feel they’re:

Treated Unjustly:
Whenever customers feel that the promises made weren’t kept, they think it’s unfair on your part. It makes them feel disconnected, invalidated, and angry. Leaving a customer request open for too long or not fulfilling their expectations is sometimes inferred as mistreatment.

Service silos like no data privacy or security, hidden motives, loss of essential information, etc. make customers feel that they are always under threat. What’s more, it’s because of your service processes they have to face this situation.

Ineffective or Frustrated:
In situations where things are not working as expected, customers don’t get to have a proper onboarding, features, engagement, value from your product, or service, they get frustrated. When their queries are not resolved quickly, they feel ineffective, and the customer service delivered to them was inefficient.

Also Read: Four Ways to Tackle Digital Impatience With ThinkOwl

Almost 9 in 10 customers have abandoned a business because of a poor experience.”

Disregarded for their feedback:
Customers usually are very vocal about their feedback. At times you may notice a pattern where the likability towards your product keeps decreasing over a period of time. In a situation like this, when you do not take action or try to discuss their concerns about the product, it shows that you do not respect their feedback. It makes them disappointed, and they may resort to using some other product.

5 Tips: How to Blow Off Steam

5 Tips: How to Blow Off Steam

#1. Play by ear and reassure:

Before you begin with the panacea for their problems, LISTEN. Take a while to hear them out carefully and thoroughly understand their concerns. You could even put your end at mute and let them vent. It’s not really a pleasure to be subjected to the frustration, but interrupting them will only aggravate the situation, making it more difficult for you. You can begin by reassuring them that their problem will be solved by saying :
“ I’m glad you called and I could be of service.”
“ I’ll let you explain your issues, and then we’ll find you a solution.”

If you’ve understood their sentiments and issues, move on. If not say, “Could you please elaborate on the issue, it will help me better understand.”

#2. Empathy — The Green Light:

Empathy is beneficial, so it can show that anyone would feel the same under these circumstances. The quickest way to anger somebody is to suggest that they are exaggerating. After the customer has finally taken a breath, the first thing you do is — empathize. Make them feel you’ve understood where they’ve come from. Use phrases like:
“I understand.”
“Don’t worry, let’s see what we can do to sort this.”
“Your issue is a cause of concern; let’s find out why this happened?”
“Let’s work together to sort this.”

Always remember the customer isn’t angry with you, so placing yourself on the customer’s side will give them faith. Empathy and understanding go a long way toward smoothing things over.

#3. Move to the drawing board:

After diffusing the anger to a certain level and ascertaining the problem it’s time to offer solutions. It is here that you bring the customer experience back on the right track, so make sure you work hard to resolve the issue. Use the tools in your arsenal to find a solution. But here’s a heads up, do not keep the customer on hold for too long; they might have already spent many minutes waiting to connect to a live person. You could say :
“ Please hold on.”
“ Thank you for being patient while I was looking into it.”

In case it takes longer, makes sure you update the customer rather than keep him waiting.

#4. The Apology:

Sometimes it becomes important to de-escalate and apologize. It is necessary to apologize for what happened and avoid excuses.
You could say:
“I understand why you’re disturbed; I would be too. I am sorry that.”
“ I apologize for.. ”

It is essential to keep in mind that although you weren’t a part of the problem, however, at that time you’re the face of the company — its eyes, mouth, and ears.
As vital as it is to apologize, don’t take the blame when there’s no-fault. Just apologize for the situation in that case.

#5. Take a break:

While it’s important not to take a negative call to heart or mind, that can be hard to do. Once an arduous situation has been resolved, take a mental break by stepping away from your desk or getting some fresh air. Demanding customers and their complaints are part of life, but so is excellent customer service. It is essential to de-stress from time to time and rejuvenate your sagging nerves. To maintain quality Customer service, take your time to relax and get back to another customer. Remember to treat every customer as new and tackle them with a zen mind.

Always shape up the conversation into a solution. Have confidence in your ability to deal with difficult customers confidently. And don’t forget to utilize the feedback as customer response demonstrates the problems and gives you a chance to troubleshoot. Put these customer service tips into practice and make a lasting impact on your business and customers.

Most importantly — stay calm and stay passionate!

Article written by: Romilla Sapru




Artificial Intelligence + Helpdesk Software = Better Relationships. ThinkOwl helps businesses streamline customer service operations.